Chairman’s Report 2018

The society exists to encourage and co-ordinate the scientific study of birds in the B.O.S. area and to ensure the welfare of birds within the framework of economic necessity.

We continue to work with and receive support from many organisations. Wildlife has benefitted this year because of our interaction with :- RSPB, the local Wildlife Trust, Cherwell District Council, Thames Water, BTO, The Neale Trust, Banbury Town Council, Oxfordshire County Council, TEVRC, T.O.E. and Warriner School Farm. This report outlines our activities.

Fieldwork- which could be regarded as our core activity. During 2018 we have continued to provide opportunities through our regular surveys: -

• Monthly record collection.
• Winter Random Squares.
• Summer Random Squares.
• Short and Long Day Counts.
• Yellowhammer Survey
• Two morning surveys at North Aston Farms on 17th March and 20th May as part of our contribution to Deddington Brook Conservation Project co-ordinated by the local Wildlife Trust.

It is very pleasing that more members than ever are attending & willing to learn survey techniques.

Many thanks to Mike Curnow, Adrian and Sandra Bletchley for their various roles in organising and making these surveys so enjoyable. Also thank you - the members for participating and contributing records.

Encouraged by Frances members have also participated in various BTO surveys.

Reserves & Conservation
Alan Peters continues as Reserves Co-ordinator, arranging meetings of reserve wardens and producing plans and budgets for Committee approval. These meetings offer wardens the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from one another. We now consider that our reserves are all well managed and are improving. For next year, we have committed substantial funds to employ contractors to carry out habitat management.

I refer you to individual reserve reports but note a few highlights:

Bicester Wetland Reserve
Thames Water funded 900 shrubs for a new hedge & replacement steps to a hide.

Balscote Quarry Reserve
Roger Evans retired as Reserve Warden. Steve Holliday assisted by Mark Ribbons has taken over and they have already achieved measurable improvements to the grassland areas. Steve has co-ordinated with T.O.E. and contractors to carry out the re-profiling of the quarry floor, which had to be postponed last year.

Pauline Flick Reserve
Jan Guilbride has taken over as reserve warden and has made a very energetic start.

Glyn Davies Wood
In early December Mike Lewis, Mike Pollard and Reg Tipping met HS2 contractors in Birmingham to establish timings of proposed works and arrangements for continued access and parking for members during / after works. We are in process of appointing professional agents to negotiate and claim compensation. Many thanks to Helen Franklin who has attended Local Community HS2 meetings. Phase 1 of the mitigation works have been completed on land adjacent to the woodland with the creation of two Newt ponds and an hibernaculum.

Our reserves continue to provide space for breeding, feeding and sanctuary for passing birds and other wildlife as well as excellent opportunities for members and others to watch and study birds. Maintaining reserves would not be possible without regular, well considered, hard work done by Reserve Wardens and the volunteer teams that they lead. We are pleased to have substantial funding available to support this activity. The best way we can express our thanks and appreciation to all involved is to visit reserves regularly.

Mike Pollard our Conservation / Planning Officer, and other members have continued to make well-reasoned comments on local planning schemes. In particular a recent application for a temporary road between the River Cherwell and the railway near Grimsbury Reservoir. Mike Pollard, Alan Peters and Reg Tipping attended a Thames Water “Bicester Local Engagement Forum”.

Ringing continues on all but one of our reserves.

Recording and Communication.
Mike Curnow continues as Data Administrator and John Dunleavy collects monthly records.
John is standing down at the end of December. He has fulfilled this role since April 2016 when he took over on short notice. We thank John for his patience and regular work in promptly collating our monthly records.

Mike with assistance from Committee has revised our Systematic list, Guide for Observers and Excel programme for monthly records submission.

Bird Trends in the Heart of England 1977 – 2016.
Mike has produced & distributed this, our latest publication which reviews population trends of key farmland and woodland species against national trends. The report is a local version of the Defra report “Wild Bird Populations in England 1970-2016” with the addition of direct comparison between local and national trends. Species undergoing significant local decline are highlighted along with population trend differences – species that are doing better or worse than the national average. The report is aimed directly at local and national organisations, providing statistical evidence of the impact of environmental changes on farmland and woodland birds. The local data are drawn from the BOS long term summer and winter surveys. This is compared directly against the equivalent BTO Breeding Bird Survey data used by Defra for their report.
Many thanks to Mike for this and to members who assisted reading over and commenting.

B.O.S. Facebook Group was launched this year to encourage engagement with the wider public in our area. Many thanks to Mike Curnow for managing this.
Helen Franklin continues to update our Website which continues to attract new members and is a good “shop window” for the Society.

Helen Raine, our Membership Secretary, makes contact with and welcomes new members.

Helen Raine has done sterling work editing & co-ordinating input from others to produce the 2016 Annual Report in good time. This one line comment cannot properly illustrate the year round co-ordinating and detailed editing that Helen so willingly gives. We are greatly indebted to her.

Sandra Bletchley continues to edit & produce our Monthly Newsletter. Many thanks to Sandra and all who contribute articles and images to make this so interesting. Thanks to Adrian Bletchley for writing the monthly bird notes.

We have again enjoyed a wide range of subject matter in our monthly indoor meetings. Many thanks to Frances who researches speakers and organises the programme. Thanks also to members who have again provided such quality presentations.

We enjoyed three well attended outdoor meetings.
June - Mike Pollard led a visit to RSPB Otmoor Reserve.
July – Tim Pridmore, Voluntary Warden, led a visit to Local Wildlife Trust Farthinghoe Reserve where we learnt about the detailed habitat management.
August – Alan Peters hosted a visit to Bicester Wetland Wetland Reserve where Colin Wearn provided a ringing demonstration and we were joined by Ian Crump, Thames Water

All meetings have been enjoyable and very well attended.

Special Projects.
Cherwell Swifts Project.
Chris Mason organised two Swift walks in Banbury as part of Swift Watch Banbury and a Swift Awareness Event at Cherwell District Council Offices. He continues to engage the general public with film shows, publicity stalls and village walks.

Spiceball Park
We continue our involvement with the park and the The Local Wildlife Trust, Wild Banbury Project.

Encouraging young birdwatchers.
In January Sandra again organised an RSPB Big School Bird Watch at Bloxham Primary School. Many thanks to Sandra and other members who gave their support.

Young Birdwatchers Course.
This year Marie Jones of the Warriner School Farm expanded the Young Birdwatchers course to four sessions.
The course was aimed at 9-12 year olds. Thanks again to Sandra for giving time to help.

Archives Review and Management.
Committee has embarked on a review of all B.O.S. archives with a view to electronic storage. It is hoped that archives will be made generally available to all for the future.
Mike Curnow has already made a good start.

Social Event.
In September there was a very good turnout of members and spouses, including two ex Chairmen, who joined together to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of

Mike Lewis. Retiring after 40 years service as Treasurer.
Roger Evans. Moving out of the area and retiring after about 20 years as Reserve Warden for Balscote Quarry Reserve.
Trevor Easterbrook. Retired through illness as long standing data recorder.
Tony Brownett. Recently retired from Committee. He served as Fieldwork Organiser from 1985, Bird recorder 1962-71, Archivist and was a diligent author and editor of Society publications along with booklets and papers of his own.
Tony Nash. Recently retired as Reserve Warden of Tadmarton Heath Reserve and Newsletter bird notes editor.
Andy Turner. Recently moved out of the area and retired as Reserve Warden of Pauline Flick Reserve and very active ringer.
The evening proved a great success and provided all with a relaxed atmosphere. Speeches of thanks were presented by Reg Tipping, Phil Douthwaite. Helen Raine and Alan Peters and opportunity was taken to pass on much of the history of the Society. I refer you to more detailed acknowledgement of service elsewhere in the Annual Report.

The Society is well served by the Committee, which meets regularly at 6 Cranleigh Close. As well as co-ordinating and planning Society activities and the annual programme the committee also looks to safeguard the assets, the reserves we own, 6 Cranleigh Close and deposited funds.
Lesley Underwood was co-opted to Committee following her offer to take over the Treasurer’s role.
Committee created and adopted a Data Protection Policy to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations. This and other policies are now stored electronically.
Special thanks to our Treasurer, Mike Lewis, who retires after 40 years in post. We thank him for his past reliable service and advice. His presence will be greatly missed. I thank individual members of the committee for their support during the year.

The Future.
Membership is creeping up.

Reg Tipping

December 2018



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